Multiple "AI Art" Updates and Controversies in Tabletop Gaming

Three news stories this week came out about algorithmic generation aka "AI Art" in the tabletop gaming industry.

BackerKit announced that effective October 4, no project will be allowed with any writing or art assets that were entirely created by algorithmic generation aka “AI”. From the blog post:

At BackerKit, our team is passionate about people’s passions. For ten years, we’ve supported creators in their journey to launch projects and build thriving creative practices and businesses. We’ve developed deep relationships and respect for the people who breathe life into crowdfunding projects, and we are committed to defending their well-being on our platform.

That’s why we are announcing a new policy that aims to address growing concerns regarding ownership of content, ethical sourcing of data, and compensation for the process of creating content. […]

As part of this consideration, BackerKit has committed to a policy that restricts the use of AI-generated content in projects on our crowdfunding platform.

This policy goes into effect on October 4, 2023.

[…] This policy emphasizes that projects on BackerKit cannot include content solely generated by AI tools. All content and assets must first be created by humans.

This doesn’t impact content refined with AI-assisted tools like “generative content fill” or “object replacement” (image editing software functions that help blend or replace selected portions of an image), other standard image adjustment tools (saturation, color, resolution,) or AI language tools that refine human-created text with modifications to spelling, grammar, and syntax.

Software assisted by AI, such as transcribers or video tracking technology are permitted under these guidelines. However, software with the purpose to generate content using AI would not be permitted.

The post includes image examples of what content is and is not allowed. Additionally, BackerKit will add an option to the back end for creators that will allow them to “exclude all content uploaded by our creators for their projects from AI training”. This is opt-out, meaning that by default this ban is in place and creators who want their work used for training generative algorithms must go in and specifically allow it.


This move comes alongside a pair of recent controversies in tabletop gaming. Last month, Wizards of the Coast came under fire as it was revealed a freelance artist used algorithmic generation for artwork included in Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. Wizards of the Coast quickly updated their stance on algorithmic generation with a statement that the artwork would be removed from the D&D Beyond digital copies of the book and will place new language in contracts banning the use of algorithmic generation.

This week, Gizmodo reporter Linda Codega reported that the artwork in the D&D Beyond version of Bigby Presents has now been replaced with new art. No announcement was made about the new artwork, and Gizmodo’s attempts to contact Wizards of the Coast for a statement directed them to the statement made in August. The artist who used algorithmic generation, Ilya Shkipin, has been removed from the art credits from the book, and the artwork has replaced by works by Claudio Prozas, Quintin Gleim, Linda Lithen, Daneen Wilkerson, Daarken, and Suzanne Helmigh.


Meanwhile, the largest tabletop gaming convention in Europe, Essen Spiel, recently ran into the same controversy as promotional material for the convention used algorithmically generated artwork including the convention’s official app, promotional posters, and tickets for the event.

Marz Verlag, the parent company for the convention, responded to a request for comment from Dicebreaker:

"We are aware of this topic and will evaluate it in detail after the show. Right now please understand that we cannot answer your questions at this moment, as we have a lot to do to get the show started today," said a representative for Merz Verlag.

"Regarding the questions about Meeps and timing, I can tell you quickly that the marketing campaign [containing AI artwork] has been created way before we had the idea to create a mascot. The idea of Meeps had nothing to do with the marketing campaign and vice versa."

Meeps, a board game-playing kitten and totally innocent of the controversy (because who could blame a cute kitty), is the new mascot for the convention announced this past July voted on by fans and was designed by illustrator Michael Menzel.

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott


Mod Squad
Staff member
And a pathological unwillingness to say no or push back...

Well, that's the environment I was talking about. The pathology doesn't typically rest in the unwillingness, but one level up. People are generally unwilling to say no or push back for reasons. Those reasons are the pathology.

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Well, that's the environment I was talking about. The pathology doesn't typically rest in the unwillingness, but one level up. People are generally unwilling to say no or push back for reasons. Those reasons are the pathology.
Yes, and they are complex. For example, I worked for a generally fantastic company ( at the time of hiring ) that was big on using Strengths Finder for hiring and tended to collect people who were, as a side effect of being very confident, fantastic learners, and self-motivated, VERY VERY bad at saying no and asking for help before help was required... It was such a problem they had to encourage and teach people how to say no. IT people, in my career experience, are catestrophically bad at admitting to being overworked or overwhelmed ( potentially or practically ) until a failure point. Most IT managers are bad at mitigating this before it happens predictively, either by being IT people turned into managers or people who want to be in charge but not manage. There are methodologies that are supposed to fix this and can, it followed correctly but rarely is the "protect implementers from the requestors" part of the job done right.

The failures are at all levels.

Conversely (or if you like, additionally), I find it an interesting statement.

Traditionally in games we've been somewhat committed to competition, and that has been very evidently overturned in some or much TTRPG. However, much TTRPG play is still committed to simulating violent competition (for survival and resources). It's interesting to ask - why is that fun, as well as ought that to be fun and what else is fun?

With competition set aside, what are the satisfactions of play? Among them may be playful responses. Traditionally in Western culture play has been treated as less serious than work, due to the latter being connected with survival. Responsive to @dragoner's comment, post-scarcity work would be no more serious than play. A thought that reappears in the writing of the American philosopher, Bernard Suits.

I think contemporary dissonances lead some to take refuge in the possibility of perfection in "delimited ludic time and space" but it seems impossible that such potted perfection can invade the whole of life, suggesting that if play is at some future time to become central to human activity then folk may have to tolerate far more chaos in the grasping and upholding of games than we do now; e.g. accept that game texts can have utility to purposes they do not share and can be read according to those purposes. TTRPG is a sub-category of games with if not the blurriest certainly very blurry edges when it comes to saying exactly what game each group will play.
Have you read Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus? Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century - Wikipedia

With somethings it is good to reframe the questions, what is work? When did Human activities such as dance, or art become work? As well as to add they have inherent value. I do go over the economics in Solis People of the Sun, and set some positive statements, such as it being more value added, and based of kilowatts of power generation, fusion is cheap so the credit is high. They have more rolled the metric back to population growth is tied to economic growth, and people are encouraged to raise families.

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